Bitfenix Shinobi Review

Compxpert - 2011-06-27 11:56:52 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: Compxpert   
Reviewed on: July 19, 2011
Price: $69.99

Introduction:

When considering a case for any project, an important consideration may be how much expansion you plan to do over the course of your build's lifetime. It's not exactly great if you want to add more hard drives, but the case you bought only accepts four hard disks and those bays are already taken. That's why it's important to consider a chassis wisely and if your intention is expanding to more than four 3.5" drives, then Bitfenix has a solution for you with the Shinobi case. The Shinobi offers you a total of eight 3.5" bays for your hard disk drives, and one of the eight can even accomodate a 2.5" or 3.5" device mounted externally, with the included 5.25" adatper. The bay converter also allows you to mount either a 2.5" or 3.5" SSD or HDD internally. These are just some of the many great features the Shinobi has to offer, with more expansion-related features than just these. If you're keen on finding out, read on while we take a closer look.

Closer Look:

At first glance, we don't know too much about the case, other than the fact we have the windowed version as opposed to the windowless. On the right side of the box we have a printed list of specifications and a look at the top front of the case. The back of the box gives a glance at some of the other features that the case has, like the surface of the outside and its expandable cooling system. Bringing up the rear with the left side of the box we are reintroduced to the fact that this is the windowed version of the case, as well as some UPC symbols.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once open, we find the case sandwiched between two pieces of Styrofoam. The case is given some additional protection through plastic wrapping around it.

 

 

The cooling capability of this case is amazing, but just how good is it? You'll have to read on.

Closer Look:

A translucent side panel is a nice feature on any case, as it gives a peek at what is inside, which is what counts the most in any build. The side panel includes provisions for a 120mm fan, although one is not included. The front of the case is pretty basic, having only the Bitfenix logo and the optional external 5.25" bay. Even more bland than the front of the case, we have the right side panel. Moving on to the back, we have a look at the first of our two included 120mm fans. The case also features a bottom-mounted PSU, which seems to be a staple in chassis nowadays. Included on the back appears to be a set of grommets for watercooling support. The top and front panels also include a rubberized coating, which feels smooth to the touch and also seems to resist fingerprinting.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top panel of the case includes support for up to two 140mm fans or even 120mm fans. It would also seem that the top panel is designed to house a radiator for watercooling applications. Moving on, the bottom of the case includes support for a single 120mm fan and ventilation for your PSU, should you choose to mount it fan-side down. Missing from the bottom of the case, however, are the feet. But don't fret, they are included and pictured later on in the review since they do not ship installed on the case. Bringing up the rear are the top panel I/O connections, which consist of four USB 2.0 ports, as well as front MIC and headset connections. Besides these, there also are a Power LED, HDD indicator LED, power, and reset switches.

 

 

 

So far it seems like this case ships with a lot of neat features, especially the large amount of expandability for fans, but what else is on the inside of this beast?

Closer Look:

At first glance, the most noticeable thing here is the multitude of tool-less solutions that are at the front of the case. However, let's first introduce the motherboard tray, which is laid out to accept Full ATX, Micro-ATX, and even Mini-ITX, something unseen on any other case I've reviewed. The motherboard tray also includes a large hole for the backplate, so you can easily change out that heatsink or waterblock without ever having to remove the motherboard to do so. Also a nice touch with this case is that it is full-on black on black, sporting black on both the inside and out. Like most mid tower cases, this one also has seven rear expansion slots, but unlike the 3.5" and 5.25" drive bays, these are not tool-less solutions. Starting out with the 3.5" drives, we have a total of eight bays, which is the highest number that I have found in any mid tower case. The tool-less solution for the 3.5" devices is simply removed by turning the knob to the unlock position, then once the drive is installed, you replace it and lock it into position, again with the turn of a knob.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tool-less solutions for the 5.25" bays are slightly different and operate much like hinged doors. You push up on the bottom of the plastic bar where the arrow is and the bar simply swings outward, which allows you to put in your 5.25" device and then close the door, locking it into place. Up next is the front panel with the plastic cover removed. Here we have the last of three included 120mm fans, as well as a spot above, which is outfitted to accept another 120mm fan, thus providing an adequate system for cooling another four drives. Moving on, we have the right side of the case, which includes tool-less solutions for the other side of your 3.5" devices and plenty of space for cable routing behind the motherboard tray. Last up we have another look at the top panel with the plastic panel removed.

 

 

 

With the rest of the case out of the way, here we have the plastic top panel and all its I/O connections. We also have a closer look at the left and right side panels.

 

 

 

The front panel of the case could have at least been a bit more unique by including a lighted front logo, but instead we just have a plain silver front logo. Up next we have the included 120mm fans, which don't have any specifics given other than their size. Wrapping things up we have the accessories, including the 3.5" to 5.25" bay converter, hardware, screws, and the manual. Inside the little box, included with the case, are also some zipties, the case feet, and our bag of screws to install the hardware.

 

 

 

Last, but not least, we have the finished build. Wire management is made a bit cumbersome given the position of the hard disk drive bays. The bays could just as easily face the other direction, but then some other tool-less solution would need to be implemented. Other than the hard disk drive bay placement, everything else is easily routed within the case and installation is easily accomplished with the included tool-less solutions.

 

So this case definitely has it in the expandability department, but how well does it handle some heat?

Specifications:

Materials
Steel, Plastic
Color (Int/Ext)
Black/Black
Side Panel
Tinted Window
Dimensions (WxHxD)
205 x 460 x 490 mm (ATX Mid Tower)
Motherboard Sizes
Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX
5.25” Drive Bays
x 3
3.5” Drive Bays
x 8 (1 x external, using 5.25" adapter)
2.5” Drive bays
x 1 (using 5.25" adapter)
Cooling Front
2 x 120mm (1 x 120mm included)
Cooling Rear
1 x 120mm (included) or 1 x 92mm (optional)
Cooling Side Panel
1 x 120mm (optional)
Cooling Top
2 x 140mm or 2 x 120mm (optional)
Cooling Bottom
1 x 120mm (optional)
PCI Slots
x 7
I/O
4 x USB2.0, Audio
Power Supply
PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
Extras
Tool-free drive locking mechanisms

 

Features:

All information courtesy of Bitfenix @ http://www.bitfenix.com/global/en/products/chassis/shinobi-window/

Testing:

For testing, I run the usual gauntlet of load and idle tests involving the four heat-producing components of the computer, which consist of the CPU, GPU, HDD, and chipset. For all idle tests, the computer is allowed to remain idle for an entire hour, after which the current temperature of each component is recorded. As for load testing, load is generated in a variety of ways, which consist of Folding@Home for the GPU, Prime 95 for the CPU and chipset, and HDTune for the HDD. For each of these load tests, the load is applied for an entire hour also, after which the current temperature is recorded. As always, lowest is best.

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

   

   

   

   

 

Sadly, the Shinobi lost out in every test, only meeting face to face with the ThermalTake Level 10 GT and Cooler Master Centurion 5 II in the GPU tests. The lack of fans when compared to the Level 10 GT and Centurion 5 II is a definite cause that could have been improved if only a side panel fan had been included.

Conclusion:

Overall, the Bitfenix Shinobi has a lot to offer in a sleek and stylish package. Its expandability features, including the 3.5" drives and ability to add on five more fans, definitely set it apart from the rest. Sure it didn't win out when it came to beating the heat, but that is understandable given that one of the compared cases was in a completely different price bracket and both comparison cases had more fans included with them. There was also an issue with wire management as a result of the placement of the 3.5" drive bays, which could have been alleviated by using a different sort of tool-less solution. Had one been included that could allow the hard drives to be mounted from side to side, as opposed to front to back, this wouldn't be an issue at all. However, the case does offer many staple features seen on every case out there, which include a heatsink bracket hole behind the motherboard tray and a bottom-mounted power supply. The included 5.25" bay converter is a very nice touch, allowing you to take one of your 5.25" bays and use it for many other things, including 2.5" SSDs or HDDs, 3.5" HDDs, and any external 3.5" device you may need. So you might be wondering, since it was up against a case with much higher cost, what sort of price tag does this case carry? Well it seems not many retailers carry this case at the moment. One quick Google search does turn up a $69.99 price tag on Xoxide.com for the windowed side panel version, with the non-window version coming in at a cool $59.99. So if you're looking for a great case with awesome expandable features for a nice price, then you needn't look further than the Bitfenix Shinobi.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: